BRONX, N.Y. — Until the end of time, we’ll debate about what constitutes an MVP. Is it the most valuable player (hence the term MVP)? Is it the best player? Should the award go to the best player on the best team or the best player regardless of postseason contention? Should a pitcher be eligible to win the MVP ahead of a position player? On and on these arguments will play out.
As one may know, what was (and in my opinion still is) a unanimous runaway for American League Most Valuable Player with Aaron Judge, has now been muddled by Shohei Ohtani supporters. Allow me to preface this by saying that what Ohtani does is unmatched and incredible. He’s a baseball unicorn.
Yet, some of the arguments for Ohtani and against Judge are ludicrous. There is a notion that because Ohtani hits and also pitches that he’s a slam dunk for the MVP. The Ohtani supporters will tell you that he’s doing something that hasn’t been done at a high level since Babe Ruth (although Ruth didn’t have the DH to fall back on). Those same supporters will bemoan that because Ohtani DHs, his WAR is penalized since he doesn’t field. Although they completely disregard that Judge is penalized because he doesn’t pitch.
Some Ohtani supporters have even gone as far as to link the Yankees’ recent slide with Judge, which is preposterous.
Especially with the Yankees slow collapse, the MVP conversation should tip back towards Ohtani
We cannot take for granted how unprecedented what he's doing on a daily basis. Our grandchildren's children are going to be talking about what Ohtani's doing 100 years from now. https://t.co/wdMYo91lkx
Check this out, on July 8 the Bronx Bombers boasted a 15.5-game lead in the AL East, yet since July 9, in 50 contests, Judge has posted 24 home runs, 53 RBI, a 4.7 fWAR, and a 250 wRC+! Plus, during the dreadful dog days of August for the Yankees’, Judge sported the best slugging percentage of that month at .721.
Plus, there are Ohtani backers who say what he’s doing is virtually unprecedented in the history of the sport.
Well, I’m here to tell you, that Judge is helping keep the downtrodden and decimated Yankee offense afloat and he’s doing on his way to some impressive, unprecedented achievements along the way.
Judge is in Barry Bonds’s territory when it comes to having the top wRC+ in a season. Thus far, Judge has posted a 202 wRC+, behind only Bonds’s 233 wRC+ mark in 2004. Not counting the abbreviated 2020 campaign, Judge’s present 8.9 WAR is greater than eight of the past 10 AL MVPs. One could take away the month of April and his fWAR is equal to Ohtani’s. Judge is also one of 10 players in MLB history to achieve a 50+ home run season twice.
Oh yes, the home runs. Judge is headed into some unprecedented territory here. Even with the whole steroid era, no one in the AL has surpassed the 61 home runs hit by Roger Maris in 1961, a record that has stood for going on 61 years in a 162-game schedule. If Judge passes Maris, he’ll have a Yankee and AL and by a lot of observers, a clean MLB record for homers in a single season. Plus, Judge is also coming up on a record for home runs by a right-handed batter in the AL of 58, held by Jimmie Foxx in 1932 and Hank Greenberg in 1938. Additionally, he’s 18 homers clear of Kyle Schwarber for the MLB home run lead, the largest margin since Ruth’s +19 in 1924 and it’s the sixth greatest home run gap between the top two in the history of the game.
Oh, by the way, Judge also leads the junior circuit with 54 home runs, 117 RBI, 109 runs scored, a 1.085 OPS, 76 extra-base hits, a 201 OPS+, 330 total bases, and an 8.2 bWAR.
Yes, I hear the arguments for having a better season versus an in-season home run chase. One could argue Ted Williams’s overall body of work was better than Joe DiMaggio’s in 1941, even with the 56-game hitting streak.
This stat will never stop blowing my mind:
Joe DiMaggio hit .408 with a 1.180 OPS during his famous 1941 56-game hitting streak.
Ted Williams hit .406 with a 1.288 OPS during the entire 1941 season.